speech: featherweights

SPEECH: Featherweights

My mother is the church lady; specifically, the Catholic…. church lady. And though I have had my respective rebellions with her, I adore her. She is a sweetheart and she will give you a rosary as a gift before saying goodbye.

And before our goodbyes are complete, she will remind me to pray to my guardian angel. To which, I reply,

“I don’t have a guardian angel mom. I have a league of angels.”

Good Evening, Madame President, Fellow Toastmasters and Honored Guests. Have you ever said hello to your league of angels? Tonight, I present project number five of the competent communicator manual, titled “Featherweights”, sponsored by Gucci, Greyhound and Amtrak.

When I turned 16, my mother gave me a new watch. She has this thing about getting me timepieces at recognized milestones. I have a watch for my first day in kindergarten and a watch for college graduation. Aren’t moms great? They come up with the best gift ideas.

So you can guess my reaction when I forgot my sweet 16 gift in the piano room and didn’t remember it til after rehearsal… after several hours. I was a wreck.

I ran to the practice room. Nothing. I had taken it off to practice and had ran off to class without it and it was now gone.

Mind you, I had lost my physics book the day before and I have a mother that goes through the list. Your mother may have a similar list. The list of “things you have lost”. I went through the motions of checking it with the music department head.

“Has anyone turned in a gold watch?”


This was duplicated at the school’s security office and the lost and found department. I wrote out my details and returned to the piano room to cry. I was going to have to go home and tell my mother that I had lost my watch. I LOVED that watch more than my physics book, more than my senior class ring, more than the countless partners of earrings that are solo. It was gone and I was going to have to go through another speech. Those speeches didn’t exactly engender closeness between my mom and I.

My mother and I are going to fight about stuff, I thought? Again? My thoughts were racing. I hate fighting. I’d rather die.

And that’s when I woke up. It was a watch. A watch! And this list my mom had was choking me. I lost a watch my mother gave for my 16th birthday which I loved and I was going to have to tell her that I lost it. That’s it. I had to tell my mom to drop the list because it was doing my head in. I didn’t want “stuff” to affect our relationship. I didn’t want to be afraid of gifts from there on.

And so I prayed and wrote my note to put up in the practice room hallway…

“LOST: Gold watch, if found, please return at Professor Russell’s office.”

I didn’t have a chance to put it on the wall. While I was writing, someone wrote and posted a note in the hallway,

“FOUND: Gold watch, please go to the school office.”

The last time I lost that watch it took a couple of months to find me. I lost it at the end of the D line.. the green line train to Newton which also doubles as the Greyhound station. By the time I had realized that I didn’t have my watch on me, I was already in Cambridge to work for the day.

“You lost your gold watch at the train station? Forget it. You’ll never see it again.”

I got a lot of condolences and reality talks. That didn’t stop me from posting up signs about my watch and talking to the desk person at Greyhound. Days passed and turned into weeks and further yet. I finally received a call on Thanksgiving morning.

“Yeah, I’m calling about your watch. I had found it sitting on top of the subway fare machine. I want to leave it for you but I don’t want to leave it with anyone at the station. I’m going to put it in a blank package and leave it with the person at the desk. Can you be there within the half hour to pick it up?”

I retrieved my watch from a shocked desk clerk at the station. I came home with that watch for Thanksgiving.

It was a watch. That’s why I got it. Right? Everyone has something they are sentimental over and if you put a sign up and say a prayer. You’ll get it back.


I recently was at the Amtrak station in Glendale on a Friday night. They don’t sell tickets there. I bought my ticket to San Diego from Union Station a couple of days prior in planning a trip to my niece’s birthday. Due to technical issues the trains were delayed and a group of us decided to take a cab to Union Station to catch the next train there.

In the scramble, I lost my ticket. The fellows who took the cab with me searched the path I walked from the taxi drop to the Amtrak desk and according to Amtrak policy, you have to produce a ticket to receive a refund. What a pain. I bought a second pair of business class tickets. That’s another $100. I made peace with the inconvenience and figured that people have bigger losses in Vegas. Any bet placed on my niece is a winner.

You can imagine my surprise when stepping down from my return train hearing a voice call out my name. In what amounted to a blur of a moment, someone put my lost tickets into my hand and walked away.

So I have guardian angels… a league of them.

But I don’t think angels are there to fix things. I think they are there to cheer you on to making decisions and confirm that things are perfect. My mother no longer gets wound up over lost things. The imaginary wedge between her and I over stuff was lifted when I made a decision to face her and tell her I didn’t want material things to sit between us. Is there an angel of lost tickets and watches?

No, but I think there are some angels that teach goodness comes from nameless faces. Maybe you have similar stories.

Maybe it was you who was my featherweight champion? Hello 🙂 then and thank you.

Thank you, Madame President, Fellow Toastmasters and Honored Guests.


~ by jnetsworld on April 7, 2009.


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